When Edward Bulwer-Lytton wrote his now famous adage “the pen is mightier than the sword” for his play “Richelieu” in 1839, he had no idea that his words would literally become part of the American lexicon with the advent of the tactical pen approximately 175 years later.
So what is a tactical pen exactly? Tactical pens are instruments designed for the dual purpose of everyday writing tasks, but also have an alter ego as a last-resort defensive weapon.
They are generally machined from high-quality metal such as anodized aluminum and are combined with pressurized ink cartridges originally designed for the weightlessness of space.
A tactical pen has the potential to become a defensive weapon in several ways. It can be used as an impact weapon, a last resort piercing weapon, or as a sort of Kubotan. A Kubotan is a 5” cylindrical weapon known for being extremely effective in breaking the will of uncooperative subjects through the use of painful locks and pressure point strikes. As a result they became known as “attitude adjustment instruments.” Due to their popularity, tactical pens have been dubbed the Kubotans of the 21st century.
A tactical pen is generally less obvious and more useful than a Kubotan, since in addition to its tactical capabilities, has a more mundane function as well. Smith & Wesson has entered the tactical pen market with its own version, the SWPENBK. As author Scott W. Wagner describes in his article “Tactical Ink Pens: Low-Profile Defensive Tools” at USConcealedCarry.com, the pen can be a formidable weapon:
“If you found yourself the victim of a close range attack—one in which you were in danger of serious physical harm (including sexual assault) — and were justified in using your firearm, but did not have it available, then the Smith & Wesson Tactical pen might be a good potential option for defending your life.” (Read more at USConcealedCarry.com)
The Smith & Wesson SWPENBK tactical pen is 6.1 inches long and weighs a mere 1.6 ounces. It is crafted from T6061 aircraft grade aluminum with a tapered and fluted main shaft that could serve as a makeshift Kubotan when used properly.
The cap end screws on and off or with the M&P model, clicks on and off. The pen itself uses a Schmidt P900M Parker Style Black Ball Point Ink Cartridge, but you may want to consider upgrading to a pressurized “write anywhere” cartridge for about ten bucks. A nice feature is the heavy-duty pocket clip which is securely attached with two bolts.
Smith & Wesson’s SWPENBK is an excellent alternative weapon to carry in areas where guns are banned or defensive devices such as knives or Kubotans are not considered kosher. While the SWPENBK looks like a normal pen, do not attempt to take it through airport security. Many TSA personnel are aware of tactical pens and will confiscate them as weapons.
As with all Smith & Wesson products, the SWPENBK comes with a lifetime warranty for manufacturing defects. It can be found online for about $23.
One of the key components of ongoing concealed carry training is time spent at a shooting range. Naturally, the ultimate objective of going to the range is to spend as much time as possible shooting at targets. What you don’t want to do is waste an inordinate amount of time and energy digging through a disorganized backpack or duffel trying to find spare magazines, revolver clips, grips, or other accessories.
Two of the leaders in firearm training and accessory products decided to combine their considerable design and engineering savvy to produce what may be the ultimate range bag.
The Blaster Bag Pro from TUFF Products and Sentinel Concepts is projected to be available soon, marketed under Sentinel Concepts ELITE collection of TUFF Products.
The Blaster Bag Pro is somewhat atypical in appearance from the stereotypical range bag as author Scott W. Wagner describes in his article “Sentinel Concepts/TUFF Products ‘Blaster Bag Pro’ Range Bag” at USConcealedCarry.com:
“As such, it really doesn’t give off the appearance of a pistol case at first glance because there are no flap pockets on the outside. There is a large zipper pocket on the outside that can accommodate pens, notebooks, or compact cleaning kits.” (Read more at USConcealedCarry.com)
Made of rugged ballistic nylon, the Blaster Bag Pro is in the shape of a laptop bag that opens into a wide v-shape to allow easy access to the interior contents. Inside, there are padded pockets on either side where you can safely and securely stow your firearms. There are also four pouches designed to accommodate extra magazines and a larger compartment that can hold an AR-15 magazine or other similar sized items such as flashlights or tools.
Dimensions of the Blaster Bag Pro are 14x10x5 inches with wide nylon carrying straps for easy transport. At the range, the bag unzips all the way around to allow quick, easy access to anything inside, but the design of the bag doesn’t limit it to the range. Its non-threatening appearance makes it ideal to bring along on a road trip as an additional piece of luggage with the secure gun pouches keeping your weapons out-of-sight from any prying eyes.
The Sentinel Concepts/TUFF Products Blaster Bag Pro will be available in blue, red, coyote brown, and black with an approximate MSRP around $45.
It’s no secret that the concealed carry community is one of the hottest and fastest growing markets in the United States. Increased instability and threats from abroad combined with violent gang activity and desperate drug addicts at home are certainly part of the reason for why people are choosing to exercise their Second Amendment rights.
Naturally, all of those guns flying off the shelves need to be holstered somewhere and as a result, holster sales are following the same skyrocketing trajectory as handguns.
For many years, holsters were basically dedicated to one carry position, which depending on the type of weapon, could result in wardrobe adjustments and an increased level of discomfort especially in the appendix position.
But now, CrossBreed Holsters has introduced a product that gives concealed carry shooters more options. Author Scott W. Wagner describes the Freedom Carry in his article “CrossBreed Freedom Carry IWB Holster” at USConcealedCarry.com:
“Capable of being used in appendix, cross-draw, and strong-side carry in the 3-5 o’clock position, the Freedom Carry is basically a reduced-size SuperTuck holster with the leather backing cut away to support only one locking clip.” (Read more at USConcealedCarry.com)
Appendix carry is one of the most efficient positions for weapon placement for a couple reasons. First, the gun’s proximity to the hand allows for a very quick draw. The closeness of the hands is also a deterrent to any “gun grabbers.” The scaled-down backing design is what gives the Freedom Carry the flexibility to be comfortable in the appendix position.
In addition to the diversity of carry positions, the CrossBreed Freedom Carry can also be canted into several different angles besides the straight draw position through the use of an adjustable clip. The bulk of the holster is shaped with Kydex to fit your specific weapon. It is held in place via friction with no retention strap, so it’s a good idea to employ the safety when using it in the appendix position.
The Freedom Carry can be worn with the shirt tucked or untucked. With the shirt in, the only visible part of the holster is the clip, which can easily be covered by a cell phone. The overall comfort of the Freedom Carry was high, especially if worn against a t-shirt. Even without the t-shirt, there is enough cowhide in the design to keep the gun from rubbing against any skin area.
CrossBreed has continued its reputation for quality with the Freedom Carry holster. When ordering, you can request your holster be molded to accept weapons with accessories such as lights, lasers, and sights. It is available in black cowhide, tan cowhide, or natural tan horsehide and comes with CrossBreed’s standard lifetime warranty. MSRP on the Freedom Carry is $64.50.
TUFF Products is a well-known brand to the concealed carry community. The company was founded more than 10 years ago and quickly earned a reputation for their ability to rapidly produce custom-fit holsters for newly released firearms.
Over the years, they have expanded their expertise to include items such as belts, magazine pouches, backpacks, and now cell phone cases. TUFF Products has a patent pending on the 8224 TUFF iTac Tactical AR-Phone Holster.
The iTac Phone Holster is made with ballistic nylon — the same durable material TUFF Products uses to fabricate their popular concealed carry holsters. Designed to hold an iPhone or Samsung Galaxy, the case can also be used to store an extra AR-15 magazine.
PALS Webbing on the front allows for the sturdy attachment of small accessories such as a tactical light or knife. The iTac Phone Holster also features a bungee design that gives customers a customization option, as described by author Scott W. Wagner in his article “Two New Items from TUFF Products” at USConcealedCarry.com:
“A Laced Bungee system that allows the user to tailor the holster to their particular phone and protective case. Note that the TUFF iTac is not a substitute for a protective case on the phone itself. The Laced Bungee system allows you to compensate for the protective phone case that you selected.” (Read more at USConcealedCarry.com)
A heavy duty metal clip keeps the iTac holster in place and tilts it at just the right angle when driving to avoid any discomfort for the wearer. The same material used inside of TUFF Product holsters also helps keep your phone scratch free, clean, and firmly in place even when inverted. The MSRP on the iTac Phone Holster is a reasonable $25.
TUFF Products also recently updated their practical Super Tac Pocket Holster, designed to secure a small pistol carried in the pocket. The new 5079 Super Tac is similar to the Pocket Roo, but without the extra magazine pouch.
The main change on the Super Tac is the exterior material which now features TUFF Products’ Grip Laminate instead of the original pebble finish. The “laminate” is actually a series of small cuts that give a checkered appearance, but actually provide a tacky feeling surface with many extruding points that firmly hold the Super Tac in place.
As with the iTac Phone Holster, the TUFF Products’ Super Tac Pocket Holster is reasonably priced with an MSRP of $25.
Most concealed carry permit holders take their 2nd Amendment rights very seriously and live their lives accordingly. In other words, they train regularly, own several firearms, and have most likely put together some type of personal defense kit. Although all of these items are personal preferences, the amount of gear you carry becomes more of a hazard than a deterrent at some point.
At first, new members of the concealed carry community are usually comfortable simply carrying one firearm and possibly an extra magazine.
Over time, shooters that are serious about personal defense realize the benefit of having a plan that includes more than a firearm by spending time at the range, talking to other members of the community, and reading about the CCW lifestyle.
One of the most basic essentials that is easiest to carry is a flashlight. Flashlights have become very sophisticated and can run into the price range of hundreds of dollars.
Yet for most purposes, a simple light with a beam that can project 30 feet should be sufficient.
A flashlight should also be lightweight and fit in a pocket somewhere. While flashlights can be a blinding deterrent in a volatile environment, they are useful in non-combative situations as well, such as when you’re looking under the hood of a car, fumbling for a keyhole, or as an emergency signaling device.
Another excellent choice for personal carry gear is some type of knife. There is a huge assortment of knives on the market, ranging from small folding knives to large, fixed blade survival knives. As a pistol backup, a folding knife that can be opened easily with one hand is paramount. An automatic knife or switchblade are even better options, but these aren’t allowed in every state.
Other devices that could be potentially beneficial in a close encounter of the worst kind are chemical sprays such as pepper spray or batons. One particularly effective pocket baton is the Persuader. With a basic knowledge of pressure points and anatomy, any person of average strength can use this little baton to inflict highly effective pinpoint injuries to any would-be assailant.
Yet for many, the biggest decision about what to carry centers around a backup gun. Is it really necessary? Well, yes and no. Author Steve Collins addresses the controversy in his article “How Much Gear Is Too Much?” at USConcealedCarry.com:
“However if you don’t train with the backup gun and don’t have it somewhere you can instantly get to it when you need it, it just becomes an extra three pounds you’re toting around every day. If your situation is such that you can honestly see yourself needing one, the best thing you can do is not tell anyone.” (Read more at USConcealedCarry.com)
Like all gear, it is a matter of personal preference in the end. Your ultimate goal should be to have a plan in place so that there is a purpose for carrying whatever equipment you decide upon. If the latest tactical gadget doesn’t have a place in your carry lifestyle, leave it on the shelf.
On the other hand, if you can envision a scenario where it will increase your chances of survival, then by all means, find a place to pack it. The end result should be a delicate balance where you are meeting your personal defense requirements without telegraphing to the world that you are armed to the teeth.
In any discussion of tactical flashlights, the name Pila usually does not enter the conversation. That may be changing. In addition to their futuristic design, Pila engineers have incorporated programmable options into their GL2 and GL3 lights by means of computerized modules.
In 1990, Pila opened its doors for business in Hong Kong as a subsidiary of Permalight.
The first generation lights were basically clones of the Wolf-Eye lights, but in 2006, the company reinvented itself and brought in Swiss engineers to design the modern beacons you find on the market today.
The GL2 and GL3 are constructed of durable, shock-resistant, anodized aircraft aluminum. The ergonomic shape of the Pila lights allows for ease of use and quick tactile recognition in low light situations.
One of the most interesting features of the Pila lights is the interchangeability of the modules. The rear cap of the lights can be switched out with several options including a tactical switch, a backup low output LED light, or a pressure pad switch suitable for rail mounting. A remote switch with a coiled cable that plugs into the tail cap is also available.
In addition to all of that, the beam can also be changed out. Depending on your preference or expected scenario, the GL2 and GL3 can be outfitted with either a LED emitter or Xenon lamp.
Another result of Pila’s out-of-the-box design mentality is a Codex programmable module. Duane A. Daiker describes how the Codex system works in his article “Pila Flashlights (GL2 and GL3)” at USConcealedCarry.com:
“Pila also offers a Codex programmable digital control module that screws into the lights between the head unit and the flashlight body. The codex features are interesting and allow the flashlight to generate various different levels of light and patterns of light.” (Read more at USConcealedCarry.com)
Pila offers the option to run the GL2/GL3 on either Lithium CR123A batteries or rechargeable batteries. Having a light with two power options is a perk for any field survival or concealed carry kit. Pila offers a dependable 4-stage recharging system that also includes a vehicle power adapter.
The specs on these two lights are impressive. The GL2, depending on the module, radiates at about 120 lumens for approximately one hour on two lithium batteries. The GL3 uses three batteries and generates a glaring 200 lumens for the same time. Both lights come with a belt holster.
The GL2 retails for about $55, the GL3 about $65. The recharging system goes for $70. Pila is a rejuvenated company with a forward-thinking design team. Depending on your need, these two lights may brighten your day.